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Published: December 1st 2006
Have spent 3 days in Hanoi, in between trips to Halong Bay and Sapa. The main area is the Old Quarter, with charming buildings, and all the streets are 'themed' - there's a street for everything, from sunglasses, metalware, wrapping paper and even tomb stones! However, there are still sooo many motorbikes so the pollution and noise is terrible, but still a great city. All business and transport of goods here is conducted on the back of a bicyle or motorbike - it's amazing how much they can strap on to the back of a bike - everything from 10 sacks of rice, live pigs and chickens, hundreds of footballs, pool tables, a whole garden centre and kitchenware!
Did a fab private cookery course at a local restaurant - we made traditional Vietnamese spring rolls (which we thought we'd rolled very well, until we put them into the pan to fry....and most of them fell apart!), lemon grass chicken wrapped in lime leaves, 'Hanoi style' spicy marinated fish wrapped with vegetables and chilli in soft rice paper, and a ginger and sweet potato dessert. Was so fun, and the best part - getting to eat it all! Was delicious if
I don't say so myself... 😊 Will be sending out invites for dinner when I get back!
Have seen lots of the sights, such as the Museum of Ethnology (learning about Vietnam's many 'minority' tribes who live up in the hills, many of whom we saw in Sapa), the Temple of Literature (the country's first university, buit in 1070) and have spent time wandering the warren of streets in the Old Quarter.
For our last night, went to see a water puppet show - a famous Vietnamese art form - it was surprisingly good! Really clever how they manouvere the puppets in the water. We then threw the travel budget aside and dined at the most expensive restaurant in Vietnam - a celebrity chef restaurant called Bobby Chinn (a relative maybe??) who creates elaborate fusion Vietnamese food - the restaurant lwas soooo swanky - decorated in red drapes and rose petals everywhere (even in the toilet bowl!). Threw together our most respectable outfits (not easy when you're travelling!) and had fancy cocktails, a gorgeous bottle of wine and AMAZING food. Had all the things I'd been craving - goats cheese (wow), lamb shank (soooo tender, ohhh) and creme
brulee (my fav!). Was a great way to end our trip.
So now after an absolutely brilliant 4 weeks with Alex in Vietnam, we're both going our seperate ways and am flying to Laos tomorrow. Highlights have definitely been Halong Bay and Sapa - the most beautiful and amazing sights. But have also had brilliant nights out, eaten fab food, spent good relaxing time on the beach, learnt lots about the history and culture, met some great people and most importantly - have lots of nice clothes which I made in Hoi An!
Big hugs to Alex for being a great travel buddy - was non stop fun and giggles all the way!
Ahh Vietnam - what a fab fab place.
On to Laos!
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